Posted by: kerryl29 | December 22, 2014

The Canadian Rockies, Day 9 – Reflecting Pools and Further Explorations of Highway 11

We returned to the Kootenay Plains before first light on the first morning of the tour, but to a different spot than we had concluded the previous day.  This time, we accessed an area of reflecting pools, in a small wetland not far from the banks of the Saskatchewan River.  From this position, Mt. Peskett and the Ex Coelis Peaks lay to the south and east.  The former would be sidelit by the rising sun.  With good conditions, it was possible to capture the peaks’ reflections in the pools.

Unfortunately, the conditions weren’t quite ideal.  The skies were mostly clear, which meant a limited opportunity to capture colorful sunrise clouds and, worse, the wind kept kicking up, causing copious ripples on the surface of the water, spoiling the reflections.  After a bit of time trying to create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, I gave up and changed positions, managing to capture one frame of the pre-sunrise sky facing almost due east, during a moment of calm.

Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I moved toward the river as the sun came up, and stopped in a broad meadow, where I used the remnants of a fallen tree for foreground interest.

Kootenay Plains Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Kootenay Plains Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I’d been keeping my eyes on the pools–which weren’t all that far behind me–all along and when I felt the wind drop for a sustained period of time I ran back to find the near-perfect reflections that I’d anticipated earlier which, along with their Platonic ideals on the opposite bank, comprised a composition that I found mesmerizing in its natural symmetry.

Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

At this point, I pulled out the camera with the telephoto lens attached and played around with some semi-abstracts.

Reflections, Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Reflections, Reflecting Pools, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

From here, it was back into the plains, as I made my way toward the river.  The upper reaches of Mt. Peskett were taking on some very nice light so I stayed with the long lens to capture the phenomenon.

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I wandered down to the edge of the Saskatchewan River and, again staying long, captured selected parts of the scene.

Ex Coelis Peaks at Sunrise, Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Ex Coelis Peaks at Sunrise, Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I moved to a different spot along the river bank, an area of confluence as the water flowed around both sides of a sand bar, and pulled out the wide angle.

Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

On my way back to the original staging area, I ran across a sandy/muddy bit of shoreline that had some interesting water and wind driven ripples, with an occasional small rock in a sandy “socket.”  The intimate scene was essentially devoid of color so I converted the image to black and white.

Sand Pattens Black & White, Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Sand Pattens Black & White, Saskatchewan River, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Before we cleared the area for good, it was time for one more quick shot of Mt. Peskett, underscored as it was by a stand of aspen.

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Peskett, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Our group decamped from here and headed back to the northeast on Highway 11, stopping at several spots to capture views of Lake Abraham from high above water level.  I focused on long lens views to pick out some of the details across the lake, where stands of aspens were partially submerged in the floodplains adjacent to the lakeshore.

Lake Abraham from Highway 11, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Lake Abraham from Highway 11, David Thompson Country, Alberta

When we reached the area where the Cline River flows into the lake, we stopped again, and after shooting from the bridge for a bit, meandered down a steep dirt road to water level.  The partially flooded wetland bordering the lake itself made for a fine foreground.

Abraham Lake Near Cline River, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Abraham Lake Near Cline River, David Thompson Country, Alberta

By now it was roughly mid-day, and we continued northeast on Highway 11 to an area known as the “Belly of Abraham.”  From here, Mt. Abraham towered above us, fronted by a thick aspen and conifer forest on the west side of the road.  To the east lay more aspen and the lake itself.  We spent several hours here, and I worked the west side first.

Aspen Forest, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Forest, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Just about everything was photogenic here, including the road itself.

Highway 11 Black & White, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Highway 11 Black & White, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The east side of the highway had just as many possibilities as the west, if not more.

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The wind was blowing pretty hard that afternoon, but I was able to freeze the blowing foliage by finding my compositions and waiting for lulls, or by raising the ISO to increase shutter speed, if needed.

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

At one point, however, I decided to flip convention on its head by slowing the shutter speed down as much as possible–I added a neutral density filter specifically for this purpose–and letting the wind do its thing during the 15-second exposure, proffering more of an impressionist feel to the resulting image.

Aspen Breeze, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Breeze, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Eventually we meandered down to the shore of Abraham Lake to explore the opportunities there.  I started off by playing with a worm’s eye view of the less dense aspen growth.

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The wind was blowing hard and the clouds were causing constantly changing exposures, and I gradually turned my attention to the scene at my feet.  I’m always interested in the forest floor and this spot, immediately adjacent to the lake itself, was no exception.  These intimate scenes were, depending on the position of the clouds to the sun at any given moment, partially in bright sunlight and partially in shade, so placed myself in such a position to create a small area entirely in open shade, to produce the even, soft light effect you see below.

Aspens Leaves and Pebbles, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens Leaves and Pebbles, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens Leaves, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens Leaves, Belly of Abraham, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Before we said farewell to this spot, I pulled out the telephoto lens one last time and, using the turquoise lake surface as my backdrop, isolated a set of aspen trunks.

Aspens at Abraham Lake, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens at Abraham Lake, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The clouds had been playing footsie for awhile and, not long after we left this area, it got very dark and very windy.  A bit of rain fell, but the wind kept blowing even after the rain stopped and at that point we called it an afternoon.  We returned to the lodge, with the intention of setting out for sunset.

About 45 minutes before sunset we headed back out in the direction of the Kootenay Plains (i.e. southwest) and set up on a rock outcropping high above the lake, but, again, the conditions didn’t materialize.  Clouds to the west blocked the setting sun, depriving us of a colorful sky.  The big excitement was the spotting of bears–a mother and two cubs–about a 1/4 mile up the road from where we were set up.  I caught a quick grab shot of one of the bears, but it’s a speck, even at 400 mm.

Still, despite the lack of great sunset conditions, there were images to be made.  I stuck with the telephoto lens and captured the gathering storm clouds over Abraham Lake as the light fell away that evening.

Abraham Lake at Sunset, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Abraham Lake at Sunset, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Approaching Storm Black & White, Abraham Lake, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Approaching Storm Black & White, Abraham Lake, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Despite the lack of great sunset light, it had been another long, highly productive day of photography.  The storm clouds we witnessed, accompanied by the palpable drop in temperatures that evening (it was really cold out there by the time we called it a night) presaged a change in conditions on the ground for the following day–snow.

Next:  The Canadian Rockies Day 10 – Sunrise Mountain Views, Larch in Snow, Nordegg and Whirlpool Point

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Responses

  1. love the larch…beautiful spaces.

  2. Your photos are so beautiful!

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Seeing the pictures posted on this blog and the ones before makes me miss the Canadian wilderness tremendously! Of course, I enjoy seeing your beautiful images, they remind me of some great memories, back when I worked in BC as a wilderness horse guide. Best wishes. And Merry Xmas!

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I can certainly understand why you’d miss the scenic wonder of the Canadian Rockies!

  4. Some very nice Images of the area. Wish that I could be there with my Pentax and different Lens’s. It seems to be so very photogenic. There must be a great photo most everywhere you go. Would be nice if we had that kind of Land around here.

    • Thanks and, yes…I explored sub-regions that, in their totality, cover thousands of square miles and almost literally none of them were without significant photographic potential. It certainly would be nice to have ready access to places like that.

  5. Oddly enough that first one did it for me. The one you described as a silk purse from a sow’s ear. That one somehow captures the cool beauty and serenity of the Canadian Rockies for me. Not that I’m knocking any of the others, but there’s always that subjective favorite.

    • I wasn’t clear in my write-up, but the “silk purse from a sow’s ear” shot never came off at all (i.e. I gave up without tripping the shutter, the conditions were so unfavorable). That first shot was a bit of a grab, because I couldn’t really compose the shot the way I liked–the reflecting pools run more or less east-west rather than north-south, so I had to shoot along the water feature rather than across it), so in that sense…yeah, it’s not one of my favorites. But I’m glad you like it so much! 🙂

  6. Look like cloud swimming in lake as a orange red fish
    impressive picture

  7. Your photos are AMAZING!

    • Thanks very much for the kind words!

  8. Spectacular photos all.

    I especially liked the B&W contrast of the sky in the approaching storm in the last photo. Very dramatic.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I like that shot quite a bit myself, which surprises me since it wasn’t much more than a grab at the moment when I clicked the shutter.

  9. gorgeousness!

  10. beautiful place.. beautiful shots

    • Thanks very much!

  11. Your images are so amazing and so thoroughly enjoyable…They are capable of creating those wish I were there thoughts.

    • Thanks very, very much; that’s humbling praise.

  12. The first time I saw Abraham Lake it was a rich turquoise, great contrast to the yellow aspens.When I went back a year later it was a different colour-I was devastated but got over it. The silt was different, that’s all. It is a lake of many moods and colours, even in one day. I am fond of the distant Lake shot from Cline river and the drama of the B/W cloud shots.You are taking me back through your photos and I am enjoying the journey.

    • Thanks, Jane. Glad you’re enjoying the series.

      Makes sense that the lake takes on different appearances, given the significant changes in water level.

      • and the way the clouds and light change so rapidly on some days not to mention that wind…

        • Absolutely true on both counts. But there’s an exception to every rule, as I’ll demonstrate in a future installment.

  13. That would take some patience . What camera did you use?

    • All the images accompanying this post–and all of the Canadian Rockies posts–were made with a Nikon D800E.

  14. The clouds are fantastic.

  15. […] just left of center in the frame of the image above.  The snow that had fallen overnight from Day 9 to Day 10 had also coated these mountains very nicely and was still present.  There was scarcely a […]


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